Top 10 Ways to Fake it That You're Spanish

By: Jessica Wray

I’m not saying you should abandon your identity completely, but we all could take a few pointers from the Spanish. CNN Travel has rated them as not only being one of the coolest nationalities, but also one of the sexiest. From drinking ¨tinto de verano¨ in plazas, staying up all night in discotecas, to looking fabulous all the time regardless of the economical crisis, not too many people have the Spanish beat.

So whether you are trying to reinvent yourself, or just blend in while touring this sunny country on the Iberian peninsula, here are the Top 10 Ways to Fake it That You're Spanish.

Of course, not all of these should be taken literally.

1. Celebrate life and live in the moment

On the surface, you wouldn't notice that Spain is still dealing with the worst economical recession in modern history or that youth unemployment is above 50%. Even through the hardest of times, the Spanish make it their duty to enjoy life. Unemployment or money problems don't keep them from spending Sundays around the family dinner table or Thursdays having a ¨cubo¨ (cheap bucket of beer) with friends.

In fact, having a job shouldn't interfere with your social life either. Working early tomorrow? Deal with that tomorrow. Tonight, the tapas are coming in large portions and the beer is cold.  You're in Spain, so live for the moment!

2. Forget about sleep

On average, the Spanish sleep almost an hour less than other Europeans. With dinner time beginning after 9pm, and sometimes going late into the night, it’s no shock that the Spanish are a nocturnal bunch. While most bars around the world are closing around 1 or 2 am, most Spanish people are just getting ready to hit the clubs. While I usually only last until about 4 or 5 am on big nights out, this is when places are the most crowded, and stay this way until the early morning.

Luckily, the coffee is strong and a mid-day nap is a cultural norm. This should help get you through the day!  

3. Take advantage of your parents for as long as possible

The economic crisis isn't the real reason Spanish people live with their parents for as long as possible (but it helps). In Spain, living with your parents until you decide to get married is pretty normal. They even have a saying for this accepted way of life.

“Vivir de tus padres hasta que puedas vivir de tus hijos¨. Or, ¨live off your parents until you can live off your children.¨

Why wouldn't you want to stay at home anyways? Mom’s tortilla española is the best and free rent makes life much better. Now you can spend the extra money you've saved on what’s really important, a big plate of jamón ibérico.

Just make sure that when your children are old enough, they keep an extra room just for you.

4. Use local slang

Each region of Spain has their own unique dialect, but if you’ve got to choose, go with a Madrileño style of speaking. Besides, in my opinion it's the easiest accent to imitate and understand!

If you are going out, an example night might go like this:

Call up your best tia (buddy/bro/mate) and put on an outfit that is super guay (really cool). Tonight there is a big party going on. “Como mola!” (how cool) you think. After drinking kalimotxo (red wine and coco-cola) at your apartment until at least 1 am, head out. The line for the club is long, but when you get to the front, your friend sneaks through without having to pay. ¨Joder, que morro!¨ (F$#%, how cheeky/the nerve!) you say.

Throughout the night you slip in some vales (alright/okay), a venga (c'mon) and as many "que phrases" (how fun, how cute, etc.) as possible. Then….ya está (that's it), you sound Spanish already! 

5. Communicate with your body

If you are having a hard time sounding Spanish, fake it with your body movements. Every greeting shouldn’t be done with the hands, but with two kisses, one on each cheek instead. Don’t forget to say goodbye this way either.

During any conversation, take a step closer to your friend than you would normally be comfortable with. The Spanish seem to keep a closer distance between each other than us Americans and Brits are used to. Don’t be afraid to touch, or hold the other person's arm while you chat either. If you don’t do it first, they will initiate soon anyways.

If you happen to be telling a story, remember, the greater the volume of your voice and the grander the arm movements, the stronger the conviction! Express what you are trying to say fully, don’t be shy!

6. Have no shame when expressing your love

The French and Italians get all the stereotypes for over-the-top public displays of affection, but the award should really go to the Spanish.

Out on a date? Don’t let being in public hold you back from a steamy make out session. Anywhere is appropriate. In the park? Find a grassy area and embrace. On the metro? Hold on tight and lock lips.

7. Take food seriously

Three meals a day is not enough in Spain, and officially, they have five. There is breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with two times a day set for snacks. You should be pretty full and happy after all of this, especially because the Spanish believe their food is the best in the world!

They have a valid argument though, given the olive oil, wine, cured meats, cheeses and produce are of some of the highest quality anywhere.

Tapas are also a serious matter and they aren't just a way of getting a cheap, free snack. Nowadays, creating a tapa can be an art. Ingredients and flavors from all around the world combine to create the perfect bite.

8. Look fabulous at all times

You won’t see anyone going out in a sweatshirt or baggy pants around here. The Spanish take care of themselves and are always looking fabulous, regardless of what they are doing.

To fit in, make sure you pay attention to detail. For women, your flats should match not only your shirt, but also your purse, regardless of the color. Besides, you probably have a purse in every color anyways, right?

If it's fall or winter, make sure you have the most fashionable boots of the season. Who cares if it is still 15 degrees outside, or it’s hard to walk in heels over cobblestone, this is about style!

At the workplace, even though the attire might be more casual than what you are used to, the most important part is wearing what's trendy. Even if you are wearing jeans, make sure your wrinkles are ironed out, your clothes match and you’ve got a fashionable accessory to tie it all together.

9. Change your religion to fútbol

They learn the game as soon as they can walk.  They follow the same team as their family has for generations. Every Sunday is centered around the match of the day and it can set the tone for the rest of the week.  You could really argue that football, not Catholicism, is Spain's national religion.

Spain is home to not only some of the best players, but also some of the most dedicated and passionate football fans around the world. If you want to fit in here, you have one important decision to make: which team to support.  If you live in Madrid, it's probably a matter of being a Real Madrid supporter, or an Atlético one.  Once you decide, equip yourself with a jersey and cheer on your team.  Even if you don't understand all the rules, just make sure to sing the "Olé" tune at the right times and you'll fit right in.

10. Drink whenever you want, but never get too drunk

In English speaking countries, we have certain cultural guidelines for when it's an acceptable time of day or occasion to drink. This is usually after 5pm or when you are off work.

In Spain, anytime can be a good time for a caña, or a copa de vino, even 11am in the morning, or during a lunch break. You often see people, especially the older generation, enjoying a drink as early as 10am!  They don't consider it inappropriate, but they also never take advantage of it and get too drunk.

In the U.S and U.K., even though we wait until the end of the day to have a drink, we often go overboard once we begin.  Drinking too much goes hand in hand with a big night out.

Whether it is due to the cultural influence of the tapa, a small bite to eat to go along with every drink, which inhibits inebriation, or an overall classiness, the Spanish don't get wasted.  Even an entire night out in the clubs won't result in a bar fight or a rambunctious journey home.  The Spanish drink slow and keep their senses.

In Spain, mimic their drinking habits. The easiest way to tell a foreigner from a Spaniard is to catch one shouting or stumbling down Gran Vía!

Now it's your turn! ----> What do you think about these? Do you have any to add?

About the author

Expat Blog ListingJessica Wray is an American expat living in Spain. Blog description: Curiosity Travels is about a 20-something on a continuous journey to see the world through the eyes of an expat. After college, Jessica moved to Seoul, South Korea for two years to teach English. She now lives and blogs about life in Spain were the wine is cheap and life is more laid back!
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Contest Comments » There are 81 comments

SIMON FLOOD wrote 5 years ago:

Great post here Jess! Going to take note. You just watch out on the subway now... I shall have the morro!

Stephanie Ptak wrote 5 years ago:

I was nodding and laughing while I read this... It really made me miss Spain! I miss all the snack times and the delicious snacks... do the students bring baguettes filled with Nutella for snack? Mine always did. Looks like you're having a great time.

Kristine wrote 5 years ago:

Love this!! I remember my first night in Spain (in Madrid) our pub crawl leader took us out to a few bars then a club...we arrive at the club at 3ish and the leader says, "I'm sorry it's so dead, it's still early--give it another hour or two." I was blown away. Also I immediately went shopping when I saw how fashionable everyone was compared to my grungy backpacking clothes!

Kim wrote 5 years ago:

Great job Jess! It is some what similar here in Costa Rica except the part where they don't get drunk...they have no problem doing that here! Good luck!

Beth wrote 5 years ago:

This seems pretty accurate from the Spanish people I know! Can't wait to finally visit Spain myself this summer. Might just need to use some of these tips ;) haha

Sarah Bennett wrote 5 years ago:

I've never been to Spain but it sounds like a place I'd *really* like after reading this list! Great stuff, Jessica!

Bex wrote 5 years ago:

This is a great post Jessica. And I so love that you've picked up on the (not only Spanish, but synonymous to the Mediterranean culture as a whole) of enjoying life without the need for ridiculous amounts of alcohol. It's all weather related, I'm sure of it. People here in Greece communicate a lot with their hands too...and arms, and legs... ;0)

Lauren Aloise wrote 5 years ago:

This is such a good idea for a post and I totally agree-- especially about the food! Speaking of which it's time for a snack...

Edna wrote 5 years ago:

Definitely picked up some of these when I visited Madrid this summer, and reminds me a lot of when I lived in Paris - gotta love the European way of life!

Amanda Slavinsky wrote 5 years ago:

Love this post, Jess! I will have to keep these in mind when I come to Madrid. Because I am :)

Kate wrote 5 years ago:

haha the PDA, the other day this old man was really going at in the metro, it was uncomfortably entertaining. Great post for blending in Jess! the slang is spot on! :)

Lucy wrote 5 years ago:

Where do I start? You took the words out of my mouth!

Megan Claire wrote 5 years ago:

Well I've definitely got the "take advantage of your parents for as long as possible" under control lol - great post Jess -well done!

Alex @ Ifs Ands & Butts wrote 5 years ago:

Absolutely brilliant post, Jessica - all reasons why I think we envy the Spanish a bit. All that drinking and eating just doesn't get old!

Ashley Of Ashley Abroad wrote 5 years ago:

Amazing post, Jessica! I studied in Spain back in the day and so I remember a lot of these. I never had that drink though, a kalimotxo... it sounds horrible :S

Patricia wrote 5 years ago:

So witty, clear and straightforward!I loved it and as a Spaniard myself I can relate to the ¨accesories¨ part haha Congrats Jess :))

Bron wrote 5 years ago:

Great post Jess. I am already practising "being a Spaniard" ready for April. I should have perfected the art by then x

Andrea McNamara wrote 5 years ago:

I love this! Reminds me of all my Spanish friends from when I lived in Europe!

Katie wrote 5 years ago:

Joder tía es verdad! This is how I live my life now! (*imagine exaggerated hand and arm gestures here*)

Whitney wrote 5 years ago:

Awesome advice, I appreciate your insight! I really like the "celebrate life and live in the moment" bit, we could all try and remember that more often!

Dan M wrote 5 years ago:

Yéssica (Spanish for Jessica). I think you should start using the spelling Yéssica as an added measure to become more madrileña! In related news, I'd love to skip the line at a disco in the near future with you. Peace and blessings.

Brian wrote 5 years ago:

Trenchant tips, Jessica, Kalimotxo sounds wild to this yank. As does the lack of sleep...

Katie wrote 5 years ago:

Great article, I can't wait to hopefully experience it in my future too! :-)

Daniel wrote 5 years ago:

This was great! I feel like Americans' inability to follow rule #1 leads to the binge drinking behavior you describe in rule #10.

Jessie wrote 5 years ago:

You sure can learn a lot in 4 short months in Madrid. Enjoyed the blog, except for the part about "taking advantage of your parents. . ." hahaha

Andrew Muir wrote 5 years ago:

Excellent post Jess, I agree that everyone should change their religion to football!! Come on Atlético!

Erin wrote 5 years ago:

Another brilliant blog post Jessica, it's always a pleasure to read your work; your articles make me want to organise my own travelling trip so much. I completely agree with all of the above - can't wait to go back to Spain in the summer for spanish omelette and sangria :)

Melissa Schmidt wrote 5 years ago:

This post makes me want to live in Spain and experience the beautiful culture firsthand!

Chelsea Alventosa wrote 5 years ago:

Hahaha Jessica this article is awesome, I am 100% de acuerdo! It's sometimes so rough to not be able to go grab hangover food in sweats though... good luck!

David Wray wrote 5 years ago:

Wow, that's a great blog. Lots of great information. Entertaining, funny and witty. I cant wait to get to Madrid. I vote for you!!!

Lauren L wrote 5 years ago:

Time to start putting this advice into action! Great post jessica!

Dan L wrote 5 years ago:

Having been to Madrid for the long weekend recently I feel proud that I have ticked quite a few of these off. Especially the drinking one! Must return soon to complete the list. I always enjoy reading your words of wisdom!

Kaitlyn DeStefano wrote 5 years ago:

Jess, this blog is a perfect description of the life and people in spain. I couldn't have said it better myself. Your post just varified all the thoughts and comments I have made to myself during the past 1 1/2 years I've lived in Madrid. It's perfect!

Heidi @ WagonersAbroad wrote 5 years ago:

I'm a failure at "faking it" in Spain, but I can relate. I probably stick out like a sore thumb, but everyone is so friendly and welcomes us anyway! Great list.

Brandon wrote 5 years ago:

Great article! I wish I would've had this information when I was in Spain!! Oh well, it'll still be relevant next time I visit, I'm sure.

Lindsay wrote 5 years ago:

This makes me miss Spain even more than I already did. You pretty much nailed it...

Shanel wrote 5 years ago:

I will definitely be practicing these tips when i visit Spain :) Great post!

Vicki McLeod wrote 5 years ago:

I have definitely adopted #5. It certainly helps when you can't think of the right word, just act it out instead! I really enjoyed your article, good luck! x

Agness wrote 5 years ago:

Great article Jess! Well done, that's a very interesting reading. It makes me feel like going to Spain right now. I've heard a lot about the worst economical recession in modern history from my Spanish friends who cannot find a job after their graduation. However, it's great to hear that Spanish make it their duty to enjoy life! That's the lifestyle I like. Totally agree- we should live for the moment!

Cez wrote 5 years ago:

I've been to Spain only once (with Agness), but certainly can confirm everything you said I've seen there. I especially love their approach to sleeping during the day. For most of Western world, it's a sign of laziness to sleep during the day, but truth be told it only helps with your effectiveness at work to have a nap. I want to go to Spain now!

Allison @ A Foodie In Europe wrote 5 years ago:

This is a great list! All very true. I like the food part the best ;)

Jwes wrote 5 years ago:

This makes me not only fake but convert to Spanishism (this is a thing ya?) and do these things everyday! gracias mis bonita hermano gato en mis pantelonas! xx

James wrote 5 years ago:

Spain is the place to be and Spanish people are awesome! I'm gonna try some of this lingo out!

Heather wrote 5 years ago:

It must be fun to live in a country where you can fit in with the locals. In China I stood out so much for my blonde hair and got so much attention that I sometimes felt like a zoo animal!

Gabriel Camberos wrote 5 years ago:

Great list Jessica! You've done what I've been threatening to do since high school and that's make a new home in Espana! Great job compiling this list. Look forward to reading more from you in the future!

Erin Ireland wrote 5 years ago:

I think I got number 8 down? haha definitely started wearing red lipstick since I've been here, awesome article!

Megan wrote 5 years ago:

All of these are so perfect! Not only are you describing the culture, but how to immerse yourself when there! Makes me miss Spain and all it has to offer. Beautiful country, great article, awesome writer.

Louise Harvey wrote 5 years ago:

A fabulous blog Jess... I love Spain and you have reminded me of the 10 reasons why I need to come back next year!! Looking forward to hearing all about your next adventures :-)

Megan wrote 5 years ago:

#11 You know you're an honorary spaniard when you receive a Caja Roja box of Nestle chocolates for any momentous occasion!

Veronica wrote 5 years ago:

Vale! Sh*t got real that's basically how I got by when I lived there! Since when did you become this crazy blogger! Such an awesome perspective Jessica ! Relates to the actual experience! Nailed that!

Samuel Varnum wrote 5 years ago:

Don't forget about growing a long, pointy mustache like Salvador Dali!

Rachel wrote 5 years ago:

I loved how late people ate dinner when I visited Spain several years ago. Who needs sleep when you have tapas???

Jill Arant wrote 5 years ago:

LOVE this article - Jessica you have done it again! We have often said "we eat like Spaniards" and now I understand why! You made me feel like I was in Spain - I could almost taste, smell and feel it. Great job!

Bill Arant wrote 5 years ago:

Great job Jessica - I spent a couple months traveling in Spain back in the college days (100 years ago) - so glad to hear it hasn't changed. You just reminded me of how impressed I was with the young people dressed so nicely in crisp white shirts and well creased slacks - strolling the streets arm in arm...... And then there is the Paella!! Cheers

Valerie wrote 5 years ago:

Thanks for helping me fit in in Madrid better :) interesting about the 1 hour average less of sleep, I always wonder how they do it!

Ann wrote 5 years ago:

I have been wanting to visit Spain for a long time. Hopefully sometime soon! Some great tips ㅋㅋㅋㅋ Ann

Zoe wrote 5 years ago:

Great blog! :) made me smile, too! I'm going back to my parents now to take advantage ;)

Seb wrote 5 years ago:

I guess the only thing to do now is to get to Spain haha. Not much use from here. Great tips though!!

Tony wrote 5 years ago:

Haha great stuff here Jess! We'll get practicing for when we visit you in April! Tony x

Christopooh wrote 5 years ago:

Just what i needed! I think I'm going on holiday to Spain next year!! Worth knowing!

Graham wrote 5 years ago:

I think I'd have trouble with number 10! haha..But I'll give it a go...

Danielle wrote 5 years ago:

Nice post here Jessica! How's Spain going now? Have you settled in?

Wanda wrote 5 years ago:

oh this is really funny! spain sounds like a fantastic place.

Sunny wrote 5 years ago:

Nice post here Jessica! How's Spain going now? Have you settled in?

Jeanette wrote 5 years ago:

Really insightful article into the ways to as you say 'fake' it in spain! Really enjoyed reading it!!

Sue wrote 5 years ago:

Such a wonderful blog. Always a delight to read your blogs Jess :)

Josh Of Spain For Pleasure wrote 5 years ago:

Nailed it! Well done Jess, i'll be checking your blog out from now on ;)

Marysia wrote 5 years ago:

Ha ha ha, great article, and of course, enjoying your life is a key!

Michelle wrote 5 years ago:

Number 10 is so difficult! haha enjoyed the post and hope to see more soon!

Andrew Simms wrote 5 years ago:

Hahah I love this!! Need to get to Madrid and test these out! Probably just end up drinking though... Still number 10 right?

Cat Of Sunshine And Siestas wrote 5 years ago:

Phew, I am totally faking it, minus the living with my parents thing, tía.

Claire Warrick wrote 5 years ago:

Hi Jess! Just been shown this and thought I'd give you a comment as well! Really lovely article here! Very funny as well!! I was in Spain a few years ago and could of done with this!! I stood out like a sore thumb!! haha xx

Si wrote 5 years ago:

Everyone has passed this around now! haha Great article though. Certainly kept us all entertained today!

Alex Brent wrote 5 years ago:

This is literally the best thing I have ever read, ever.

Naz Akhtar wrote 5 years ago:

Jess this is amazing-I can deffo relate to it after our trip to Spain last month. I can relate to #2 110%..Spanish folk really do not sleep. I want to to back :(

Seamus Fraser wrote 5 years ago:

Yep causes definitely the arms movement rings a bell great article

Dara Ryan wrote 5 years ago:

Great portrayal of Spanish culture! Makes you want to move there asap. Well done Jess :D

Leo Oscar wrote 5 years ago:

Saw this earlier today but forgot to comment on it!! Like the others said above, we all had a laugh at this! ;)

Annie Rae wrote 5 years ago:

I want to move to Spain! It sounds fabulous! I'm a night owl so I think I could do it :)

Ronnie wrote 5 years ago:

Love this girl! Keep it up. I'll continue to follow your blog. I love the posts!

Molly Flood wrote 5 years ago:

I'm going to practice for when me, Tony and Bron come to visit!!

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